High-SchoolIllinois: Football

David Smith commits to Oklahoma

January, 17, 2012
Bremen senior running back David Smith announced today that he will play at Oklahoma next year. Smith made his decision public at a press conference earlier this afternoon.

Oklahoma has already signed two other running backs from the Class of 2012, so Smith will definitely have to fight for playing time. But he's fine with that, as Oklahoma has been his preferred destination since early in his high school career.

Writer Bob Przybylo from ESPN's SoonerNation blog says that Smith made his decision after a recent recruiting trip to Oklahoma. From Przybylo's story:
Smith, 6-foot and 197 pounds, said he had a great time on his official visit to OU last weekend. He spent the first part of Saturday sitting in between Gundy and head coach Bob Stoops at a Sooners basketball game. He spent part of the night with fullback Trey Millard and quarterback Landry Jones as the duo helped show him what it's going to be like when he steps on campus.

I think it's an interesting decision. Smith isn't seen as an elite, blue-chip recruit across the country, but it seems like he really had his heart set on being a Sooner, and it looks like he's ready to fight for playing time.

And though Oklahoma is mostly a spread passing offense, coach Bob Stoops has done a very good job of developing running backs during his time in Norman. Smith could end up carving out a significant role in the offense in a few years.

To read Przybylo's full story, click here.

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Best of 2011 with Laquon Treadwell

December, 29, 2011
The past 12 months have been interesting, to say the least. To help us break down everything that happened in 2011 (and look forward to 2012), we're bringing in an expert.

Laquon Treadwell, a junior receiver at Crete-Monee, is one of the best football players in the state. He caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. We asked him about the best of 2011, and he gave us the answers.

* Treadwell's responses are in Warriors' blue.


Best High School Team
Treadwell: Simeon basketball because they've won state so many times in a row. They've got some of the best players in the nation on their team in Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn.

Best High School Athlete
Treadwell: I think it was me! I did a lot for my team. But if not me, then I have to go with Jordan Westerkamp or Ty Isaac, one of those two.

Your Best Moment of 2011 (On the field)
Treadwell: Probably going undefeated in the regular season.

Your Best Moment of 2011 (Off the field)
Treadwell: Getting offers from four universities.

Most Memorable Game
Treadwell: The basketball game between Bloom and Homewood-Flossmoor around Thanksgiving. It went into two overtimes and it was just crazy.

Pro Athlete of the Year
Treadwell: Derrick Rose, because I think he's the best athlete in the NBA and he's from Chicago. He went to Simeon. And he's just a playmaker and fun to watch.

Best Pro Championship Team
Treadwell: The Packers, because they have a great offense. I like their offense. It's kind of like the Crete offense, with everything spread. They have great passing and great receivers just like us.

Your New Year's Resolution (On the field)
Treadwell: Getting bigger, faster and stronger. Just getting better all-around in both sports, football and basketball.

Your New Year's Resolution (Off the field)
Treadwell: Improve academically and do well on my ACT.

The one story you want to leave in 2011
Treadwell: How LeBron isn't as good as Kobe or how the Heat will never win.

Disagree with the Best of 2011? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.

Morrison makes All-American team

December, 22, 2011
The ESPNHS football All-American team has been announced, and Antonio Morrison was the only Illinois player selected.

Morrison, a senior linebacker at Bolingbrook, racked up 101 tackles this season while leading the Raiders to the Class 8A state championship. Morrison will graduate early in January so he can get started on his college career at Florida.

To see the rest of the ESPNHS All-American team, click here.
Across the country, the high school football season is now complete, and Illinois football champs join the list of state champions in every classification throughout the nation.

To see the full list of state champions as well as how Illinois stacks up, click here.
Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are over and the Class of 2012 had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Illinois next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. LaQuon Treadwell (JR), Crete-Monee, WR
Credentials: Big, physical playmaker caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns this year

4. Ethan Pocic (JR), Lemont, OL
Credentials: At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Pocic is dominant in the running game and pass protection

3. Matt Alviti (JR), Maine South, QB
Credentials: Passed for 2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns and also ran for 12 scores

2. Aaron Bailey (JR), Bolingbrook, QB
Credentials: Led Bolingbrook to a state championship, running for

1. Ty Isaac (JR), Joliet Catholic, RB
Credentials: Ran for 2,629 yards and 48 touchdowns on the year, including a title game-record 515 yards in the Class 5A championship contest

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Illinois Weekly Basketball Rankings.

Did I miss someone who should be on the list? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know about it.

Five Days of List-Mas: IL's A-List

December, 12, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you're putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you're making that special list for Santa, there's nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we're bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: Illinois A-List

What is an A-Lister? In Hollywood, it's the George Clooney and Julia Roberts crowd. In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The A-List is the best of the best. So which athletes can be considered A-Listers in Illinois this year? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state.

Aaron Bailey, Junior
Bolingbrook, Football
Credentials: Quarterbacked Bolingbrook to state championship; ran for 1,983 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Ty Isaac, Junior
Joliet Catholic, Football
Credentials: Ran for 2,629 yards and scored 49 touchdowns; led Joliet Catholic to state title game.

Ryan Koziol, Senior
Providence, Baseball
Credentials: The most controversial selection to this list, Koziol may not play a single inning this year after being ruled ineligible following his transfer from Brother Rice to Providence. He has committed to Arizona.

Jabari Parker, Junior
Simeon, Basketball
Credentials: No. 1 in the ESPNU 60; leads the No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Jordan Westerkamp, Senior
Montini, Football
Credentials: State's all-time leader in receptions (269), receiving yards (4,355) and touchdowns (66).

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The top underclassman football players from Illinois.

Think I missed someone who should be on the A-List? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.

Winkler wins Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
Blake Winkler may not have been the highest-ranked football player in Illinois, but there was no one more feared with the game on the line. For his steady play and clutch leadership, Winkler took home the Gatorade State Player of the Year award for 2011.

The 6-foot senior passed for 2,369 yards with 30 touchdowns this year, while tossing just five interceptions. His Lincoln-Way East squad was upset in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, but Winkler was still the choice for the Gatorade panel.

It won't be a popular decision in some circles, as there were some spectacular performers across Illinois this year. Montini senior receiver Jordan Westerkamp became the state's all-time leader in every pass-catching category while leading his team to the Class 5A championship. Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey burst onto the scene and won the Class 8A championship. Joliet Catholic junior running back Ty Isaac ran for 2,629 yards and scored 51 TDs.

And those are just the offensive stars. Glenbard West senior defensive tackle Tommy Schutt may have been the most dominant player in the state.

If I had a vote, in all honesty, I probably would have cast it for Isaac or Bailey. But since both are juniors, we'll likely get to see them battle it out for this award next year. For 2011, I have no problem with Winkler taking home the hardware.

To read the complete rundown of Winkler's credentials, click here.

To see all the winners for every state, click here.
After a playoff run that saw the top two teams lose in the early rounds, Bolingbrook emerged as the undisputed No. 1 football team in Illinois. The Raiders used one of the best defenses in recent memory, along with star quarterback Aaron Bailey, to go 13-1 and win the Class 8A championship with a 21-17 victory over Loyola.

Bailey, a candidate for Gatorade State Player of the Year, is just a junior, so he should return next year to make Bolingbrook a favorite again in 2012.

Final 2011 POWERADE State Rankings
  1. Bolingbrook (13-1) — Defeated Loyola, 21-17 (final regular season rank: No. 5)
  2. Loyola (13-1) — Lost to Bolingbrook, 21-17 (final regular season rank: No. 4)
  3. Montini (12-2) — Defeated Joliet Catholic, 70-45 (final regular season rank: NR)
Click here for complete POWERADE state rankings.
According to ESPN Chicago, the wife of an Antioch football coach has been arrested and charged with computer tampering after going into the school's system and changing players' grades.

To read the entire ESPN Chicago story, click here.

Football playoffs: Semifinals picks

November, 18, 2011
Quick picks today, as we tackle the state semifinal round. I'll be live-tweeting during the games on Saturday, so follow me on Twitter if you want to keep in touch. I promise to be witty and only occasionally informative.

Class 8A

Glenbard North (9-3) at Loyola (12-0)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
Prediction: LOYOLA 34, GLENBARD NORTH 14

Bolingbrook (11-1) at Naperville Central (9-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Class 7A

Wheaton Warrenvile South (9-3) at St. Rita (10-2)
Saturday, 6 p.m.

Lake Zurich (10-2) at Boylan (12-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Prediction: BOYLAN 22, LAKE ZURICH 10

Class 6A

Lemont (12-0) at Richwoods (9-3)
Saturday, 2 p.m.
Prediction: RICHWOODS 24, LEMONT 20

Prairie Ridge (11-1) at Batavia (12-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Prediction: PRAIRIE RIDGE 30, BATAVIA 20

Class 5A

Montini (10-2) at Kaneland (12-0)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Prediction: MONTINI 34, KANELAND 17

Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0) at Joliet Catholic (10-2)
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala). It's fun!
Class 8A

There weren't any barn-burners in 8A this weekend, as all four games were decided by 23 points or more. The most surprising result was probably No. 11 seed Glenbard North's upset win over No. 7 Stevenson, 28-0. Stevenson knocked off Maine South the week before and appeared to be playing well, but Glenbard North never gave the Patriots' offense room to breathe.

Naperville Central topped Homewood-Flossmoor to advance to the state semis, where they'll meet Bolingbrook. At this point, I think I'd lean toward Bolingbrook in that matchup, but give me some time to think about it before holding me to a prediction. But I'm really high on Bolingbrook right now.

Loyola, the No. 1 seed, dispatched Lyons in the quarters and will face Glenbard North. Everyone expected a Loyola-Maine South matchup in this round, but Glenbard North won't be a pushover.

Class 7A

Most of this weekend's action took place in 7A. Back-from-the-dead Wheaton-Warrenville South held on for a 10-7 win over East St. Louis to earn a spot in the semifinals. How far has WWS come? After four weeks, they were 1-3 and in a proverbial ditch by the side of the road. But since that point, they've won eight straight games, including a 7-0 win over Lincoln-Way East two weeks ago. I guess there's something to be said for championship experience. Would you bet against WWS winning its third straight state title at this point?

Wheaton South's opponent in the semifinal round will be St. Rita. The Mustangs used a late goal-line stand to defeat O'Fallon, 19-14.

Lake Zurich is in the state semifinals for the third straight year after beating Elk Grove, 17-10, and the Bears now have a meeting with Boylan set for Friday night. Boylan handled Crystal Lake South, 30-13, to punch its ticket to the semis.

Check back for more coverage throughout the week. We'll be getting in-depth with each of these matchups, and your input is always welcome. Catch me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Football quarterfinal picks: 8A

November, 11, 2011
Quick picks today, looking at the Class 8A quarterfinals. After last week's rush of upsets, it's hard to discern who has the upper hand in many of these matchups. But they pay me to make predictions (and clean out the keyboards), so here we go.

Playoff picks: 8A quarterfinals

Class 8A

Lyons (7-4) at Loyola (11-0)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
No team has had it as easy as Loyola in the first two rounds, as the top-seeded Ramblers have outscored Evanston and then Dunbar by a combined score of 64-0. As much as it scares me after last week's upsets, I'm going with Loyola here. This looks like the team to beat in 8A now.

Stevenson (9-2) at Glenbard North (8-3)
Saturday, 3 p.m.
I'm all in on Stevenson after I called them a pretender last week, only to see them go out and beat No. 1 Maine South. And Glenbard North is a good matchup for the Patriots. North likes to pound the ball, but Stevenson senior linebacker Carl Miller is playing out of his mind right now.

Homewood-Flossmoor (8-3) at Naperville Central (8-3)
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Naperville Central defense has been outstanding all season, and they face a unique challenge this week in 6-foot-7 Homewood-Flossmoor quarterback Tim Williams. But I think senior defensive end Zach Borta has a big game and Central moves on to the semifinals.

Downers Grove South (10-1) at Bolingbrook (10-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Bolingbrook has two superstars in key spots — senior linebacker Antonio Morrison and junior quarterback Aaron Bailey. They made enough plays to beat Mount Carmel 21-7 last week, and I think they'll do it again on Saturday. Bailey is quickly becoming a favorite of this blog.

Did I make a bad call? Let me know on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).
So... how was your weekend? Mine was thrown into chaos by the IHSA football playoffs, as the top three teams in the POWERADE state rankings all lost their second-round games. No. 1 Maine South lost to Stevenson in Class 8A, while the 7A bracket was destroyed by No. 2 Glenbard West's loss to Lake Zurich and Wheaton Warrenville South returning from the dead to upset No. 3 Lincoln-Way East, 7-0.

What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. Loyola now looks like the team to beat in 8A, but is that a sure thing? I don't know what to believe in anymore. Stevenson now has Glenbard North in the quarterfinals, and that's a winnable game. Could they keep the momentum rolling all the way into the state semifinals?

In 7A, Glenbard West's loss was perhaps the most surprising to me. I had the Hilltoppers rolling into the finals, where they were set to meet Lincoln-Way East in my mental bracket. Now both teams are out, and Wheaton South looks like the team we thought it could be all the way back in August.

This is all crazy, March Madness-style insanity. I need some time to sort this out. Check in tomorrow for "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)."

Playoffs: Maine South at Stevenson

November, 4, 2011
The Game:
No. 1 Maine South (10-0) at Stevenson (8-2)
Saturday, 3 p.m.

The Players:
Maine South — Last week's win over Curie was a bit too close for comfort, and senior running back Paul Preston had just 10 carries for 70 yards. Those two statements may be related. Look for Preston to handle a bigger workload against Stevenson as the Hawks look to get back to basics. And of course, junior quarterback Matt Alviti is always a big-play threat.

Stevenson — The Patriots' offense couldn't be considered explosive, but Stevenson does a good job of running the ball and controlling tempo. And when it's time to go for chunks of yardage, senior receiver Troy Radtke is usually the target.

The Stakes:
Besides the win-or-go-home aspect that comes with every playoff game, Stevenson also has a rather large "Maine South monkey" on its back. The Patriots came into last year's playoff matchup undefeated, and Maine South sent them home anyway. That's a lot of baggage to carry around.

The Prediction:
Defense wins championships, sure, but you have to bring some offense to the table, too. I just don't see any way that Stevenson can score enough points to keep within striking distance of Maine South, let alone upset the state's No. 1 team. I have Alviti pegged for three touchdowns and Preston for two — Stevenson can't keep up.

For the rest of the weekend picks, click here.

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Playoff picks: Round 2

November, 3, 2011
With the second round of the playoffs set to get underway tomorrow, it's time for the weekly picks. Note: You won't see the game between No. 1 Maine South and Stevenson listed here, because I'm saving that preview for tomorrow.

Round 2 playoff picks

Lake Zurich (8-2) at No. 2 Glenbard West (10-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Expect this to be a low-scoring affair. If Glenbard West plays mistake-free, they win.

Wheaton Warrenville South (7-3) at No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (10-0)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WW South is playing its best ball now, but LWE has been doing it all season. There will be a new 7A champ this year.

Mount Carmel (7-3) at No. 5 Bolingbrook (9-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Senior RB Brandon Greer takes over and leads Mount Carmel to the upset.

Lake Forest (8-2) at No. 8 Batavia (10-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
I'm not wavering on Batavia. The offense should be able to move the ball against Lake Forest.

Cary Grove (8-2) at No. 10 Nazareth (9-1)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
The 6A bracket gets shaken up with this result.

Think I made a bad call somewhere? Tell me about it on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).